Stumbling blocks in problem solving

Anyone even remotely involved in project management knows that problem solving is one of the most important and time-consuming tasks here. So you need problem solving skills to be successful in project management. In general, it is always advisable to take a proactive approach to problems and their solutions. Companies that take an active and structured approach rate their efficiency higher and say they have an advantage as a result. Tim McMahon has recognized how essential problem solving is and has written an article on about the five mistakes many people make when solving problems. We summarize his article for you below.
Several game pieces stand along a straight line and a chaotic line

Stumbling block 1: the wrong people

The first stumbling block, according to McMahon, is choosing the team for a particular task. In his experience, tasks are often assigned to those who have either done something similar before or who just have spare capacity. Ideally, both. Sounds logical and makes sense, but it doesn't lead to the formation of ideal teams. Maybe the best candidate for solving that particular problem has just disappeared under piles of files, but if the problem is important enough, consider clearing his desk enough so that the best person for the job can actually do it. It might be easier to find someone to take other tasks off his or her plate instead of making do with number two, three, or fifteen. After all, if exactly the right person isn't involved in solving the problem from the beginning, it probably means that the problem will be solved inadequately, too slowly, or in the worst case, simply not at all. Of course, there is a chance that an employee will develop unexpected skills and grow from their tasks, but if you have an expert, use them! Failures not only affect the efficiency of the company, but also the motivation of everyone who was involved.

Stumbling block 2: What is actually the problem here?

What is actually the problem here? Good question. This good question must be clarified as the very first thing. Often the problem is just a lack of coordination and not the inability of the team. Insufficiently defined project goals are dangerous. If you only outline your goal as boosting sales or improving advertising, you have already set the course for failure. A goal defined so vaguely can hardly be pursued, not measured and somehow not achieved. So: Define clear goals right from the start. If the objectives are not clearly defined, it is better to schedule another meeting to drill a little deeper and find out what is actually to be achieved. Be very specific. This also ensures that you don't solve a problem that doesn't exist and that you know when you've actually managed to solve it.

Stumbling block 3: Missing data

Missing data is a phenomenon that has caused many projects to collapse. Let's say you know the problem very well. For example, one factory produces twice as many defective products as another. A clear problem. You can set out to find the reasons and then fix them. But: without sufficient data, you can neither find out the reasons, nor in the end learn whether you were really able to fix the problem with your measures. To compare a percentage of defective products, you need at least data on "before" and "after" and that from one company and the other. Of course, you need more facts and data and proof of your result at the end, and this in turn must also be measurable in figures.

Stumbling block 4: Symptoms and roots

Tim McMahon is very brief on this point because it simply makes sense. If you fight the symptoms of a problem and don't address the roots or causes of a problem, you won't be able to solve it in the long run. So place special emphasis on a thorough analysis of the reasons.

Stumbling block 5: Lack of systemic and scientific approaches

This is about methods. In many companies, management simply lacks the right approach. This is also due to the fact that it is precisely from the executive floor that people are urged to become active immediately. With many problems, however, it is advisable to first sit down and analyze thoroughly before action is taken. This may seem unsatisfactory, but it guarantees results. Structured, scientific and systemic approaches sound boring and schoolteacher-like, but they are not taught at universities and in the certification of project managers for nothing. They work, and they are usually simply necessary to grasp a problem and develop a solution process. Even in agile management, lots of methods and systematic approaches are used. They are just agile - and thus, contrary to some opinions, not haphazard. Quite the opposite. Rather take a little more time for analysis and methodology, instead of your problem ending up lasting longer than necessary. After all, most problems cost their owners cash. And the longer they persist, the more.
Author: IAPM internal

Key words: Project management, Tip, Project goals, Projekt planning, Guide

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